It’s that time of the year when social media is abuzz with exciting holiday photos and reels, inciting in others (those who may not have travelled) a deep sense of FOMO. So what exactly is FOMO? A symptom of modern life, it stands for ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. The word was, in fact, added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, as more and more people could relate to it. FOMO comes from a place that the grass is greener on the other side and puts unnecessary attention on the empty half of the glass.
The bad news is that FOMO is a lot worse than we think. Though sometimes used lightly and humorously, FOMO digs its roots deep into your psyche, which can lead to anxiety, depression and a sense of diffidence. We live in a society where comparisons are inevitable. Most of us seem to care a great deal about others’ progress, fear being left behind and constantly try to keep up with peers. And in some way that is understandable, since access to some of the most important things in life (for example, the best universities, the best jobs, the best houses) is granted only to those who do better than the rest. Nonetheless, social comparison seems sufficiently destructive to our sense of well-being, and it is worthwhile to remind ourselves to do it less.
Novelist Erica Jong once said: ‘Jealousy is all the fun you think they had’. Similarly with FOMO, we don’t know a person’s struggles (despite the seeming façade of success) till we walk in their shoes. We are built to naturally think the best about others, and shrink our own sense of self.
The good news is that we can train our minds to overcome FOMO and protect our mental well-being.
Slow down and identify what triggers these emotions in you. And see how you can work around them.
IN OR OUT
People with FOMO look outwards instead of inwards. They tend to be so tuned into the ‘other’ or ‘better’ person, that they lose their sense of authenticity. They stop being who they truly are. But this can be changed, by bringing the attention to your own sense of self. And building on that.
Not all moments need to be posted on social media. Document your precious moments, but in private, and share with those who matter. Connect deeply as you share and you’ll experience far greater happiness.
PINCH OF SALT
Not everything you see on social media is true, people put their best foot forward. Even influencers and celebrities post only what they want the world to see. View their posts with discernment.
Yes, it sounds clichéd, but look around you and notice all that you’ve been taking for granted. Pause and feel a sense of gratitude towards it.
Everyone has their own divine time lines. If someone is doing well now, be happy for them, be inspired. Keep pushing yourself and trust that you will have your moments as well. Be okay with your journey and have faith.
FOMO is slow poison that erodes your own sense of self. Make yourself a priority again. It’s your own life you’re missing out on.
Connect with Delna Mistry Anand across social media @DelnaAnand
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